The Dal Mill or the Lentils Processing Unit set up by Seva Mandir is now in its fifth year.
Jelki one of the elderly lady of the village who has been associated with the Dal Mill since its initiation greets us with her toothless smile and glittering eyes. As we talk to the in charge of the mill, Jelki comes close and says “faydo hai faydo”- meaning “there is profit”.
While Ramlal ( another farmer at the mill) says , “seeing the losses in agriculture, farmers were forced either to migrate or to commit suicide. Today every farmer in Kotra is pretty confident that his produce will get a fair price in the market ”
Today, 10,000 destitute farmers of south Rajasthan are connected with the Lentil processing mill. These poor farmers, who were often cheated by the dealers - now don’t have to sell their crops at low prices. Seva Mandir run Lentil processing unit procure their crops in the village itself and provide them fair price by finding niche markets for their produce, hence increasing their profit share by cutting transportation expenses and dealer commission .
It is because of your support we have been able to help increase profits of these poor farmers. Thanks to your trust andsupport , the Dal Mill has grown over the period of time providing livelihoods to thousands of farmers who would have otherwise exploited in the supply chain.
We look forward for your continuous support. If you travel brings you to this part of the world, please do visit us. We would love to take you to Kotra village where you have been helping these poor farmers break the vicious circle of poverty . For any quarries, question, doubt or just to have a word with us feel free to write to me at email@example.com
Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team
Dal mill- the two words which don’t quite depict it as a corporate enterprise, nevertheless this entity has been providing fair livelihood opportunities to more than 5000 farming families in rural Rajasthan and has become a symbol of identity for them. The farmers of Kotra have not only received fair price for the pulses they produced since past seven years, but now also take pride in the fact that their pulses are being recognized as of supreme quality in some of the best hotels and restaurants of Udaipur.
In the previous edition we discussed plans about NalaBachatSamiti’s expansion of scale in terms of procurement and production. Those plans have taken shape and for the first time NalaBachatSamiti has procured raw moong (type of lentil) from the farmers of Kherwara, a tribal block, about 100 Kms from Udaipur. As with the farmers of Kotra, the farmers of Kherwara were also subject to middlemen exploitation. The border of Gujarat, being very close to Kherwara, farmers often had to do distress selling of their agricultural produce.
This year NalaBachatSamiti has purchased almost 1500 Kgs of raw moong from Kherwara. This quantity was the collection from 20 farmers of Pareda village of Kherwara. For the first time in their life, the farmers received full “market price” for their agricultural produce without bearing any cost for transportation. The farmers were so elated about the proposal of purchasing raw pulses directly from them that they willingly sorted and graded the raw pulses into two varieties- the superior larger grains and the inferior smaller ones and were ready to accept lower price for the inferior variety. The farmers promised that they will employ better farming practices next time and will try to grow only the superior variety of pulses. They have already started preparation for cultivation of other varieties of pulses namely Tur and Urad, crops which were not generally in agricultural practice in the area. In the words of Manna, a farmer from Pared village, “We never imagined we shall get full price of our agricultural produce. We are thankful to the dal mill and shall help in every way we can to take it to new heights.”
Thank you Friends for your help and support to this program.
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NalaBachatSamiti, the community of 86 tribal farmers that started as a collective action against middleman exploitation of their agricultural produce, is now in the 6th year of its inception. From a small group of farmers who united to save themselves from middleman exploitation, the group now discusses business terms like profit, annual turnover and break even sales. In this edition, I shall give a glimpse of some of the new initiatives taken by NalaBachatSamiti. The procurement of raw tuar (lentil) started from the beginning of January. The target of procurement in this year was 30MT. To achieve this huge target, the members of NalaBachatSamiti opened 6 new procurement centers in Kotra block and the members took turns to man them tirelessly for the entire 3 months of procurement. This year SevaMandir provided NalaBachatSamiti with a digital moisture meter and trained the members on the usage of the same. NalaBachatSamiti procured each lot of tuar from the farmers after calculating moisture and asked owner of any lot whose moisture content was more than 15% to dry the same and deliver it to the dal mill. As a result NalaBachatSamiti was able to save 5% of overall cost which it lost every year due to moisture content in pulses. To process this huge quantity of raw tuar the members of NalaBachatSamiti took turns and ensured that the dal mill keeps spinning round the clock. The members of NalaBachatSamiti has also searched for and found new clients for dal and its by-products.
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Babu, along with his parents, wife and children, lives in Medi village. The region is inhabited by tribal people living in extreme poverty. Babu is a farmer with a small piece of land; like most others in this area, his main produce is lentils. In fact, his family has worked in the fields here for generations, cultivating this staple crop.
Compared with many others in his community, Babu managed his finances well and he tried always to invest in good quality seeds and regular irrigation. But despite his best efforts, his family income remained low, mainly because of a lack of proper storage for his crops and problems with transport.
Every time he wanted to sell some of his harvest, Babu had three choices: he could travel to the market using local transport, which raised his costs; he could walk the several miles there; or he could sell his lentils through middle-men, in which case he would not receive a fair price.
Over time, the financial position of his family worsened until some were forced to leave the village in search of labourer work. But even this radical step didn’t protect them from hunger.
Several years ago, the solution for this family's increasingly precarious situation came with a Seva Mandir agriculture programme: Babu and 86 others from his community were given support and proper training to become co-owners of a dal mill.
The principal aims of the project are to operate along ethical lines, guarantee proper storage for the harvests and ensure fair prices to the farmers by cutting out the middle-men. The farmers who are part of the cooperative are now able to control the process of dal making and selling, they are guaranteed a fair market price for their crops and they receive a share of any future profits.
Thanks to the generosity of Seva Mandir's supporters who made this project possible, the economic situation of Babu's family continues to improve. As one of the farmers participating in the dal mill cooperative, he is able to support his family and provide them with a decent standard of living.
His initial contribution to the project was 100 rupees (£1 or $2). This investment, and the support of Seva Mandir in enabling the farmers to realise the scheme, has given Babu assurance that his efforts will bring him appropriate rewards. Indeed, with time he will be able to cultivate a little more of the land and further ensure that his large family's finances are stable.
The future is now brighter for them all.
We wish to thank you for your continued support.
Atul Lekhra Follow us on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sevamandir
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Since 1968, Seva Mandir has worked with 360,000 people across 700 villages in southern Rajasthan, one of the world’s poorest regions, where people live on an average of USD 0.35 a day, to build cohesive and inclusive communities whose members are able to participate actively in the local decision-making which affects their daily lives.
Fostering democratic participation in the affairs of the community is the foundation for all of Seva Mandir’s interventions in the region and is a key element of its success in supporting deprived rural communities.
Seva Mandir has worked in partnership with these people, not only to improve their material well-being, but to build stronger and more ethical communities. Through its programs on governance, health, education, sustainable use of natural resources, women’s empowerment, youth development, child care and social enterprise, Seva Mandir makes a tangible and transformative impact.
At Seva Mandir, very modest amounts of money go a very long way toward improving people’s lives, and our success has been recognized through a long list of awards and partnerships with distinguished funders and the Indian government.
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